31 Dec 2015

Quietest Christmas since 1995!

This has been the quietest Christmas that we have had since around 1995 (the Christmas before Adam was born). How did we do it?

We got rid of the kids!

This Christmas, Adam and Parker travelled with their grandmother to Charlotte, North Carolina, to visit Wendy's brother and his family. Wendy had to work over the holidays and I was not sure how much time I would be able to take, so Wendy and I stayed home. 

Seidlitz family 2015

We did write our annual Christmas letter but are in the process of emailing it out. If you haven't received yours yet, here is a link where you can download it as a pdf.


With the kids leaving Dec. 23rd, we had to plan our Christmas celebrations for the weekend before the big date. We opened presents and had a big turkey dinner with our friends and family. Here are some shots from our Christmas.

Christmas "morning"
Parker is eager for his birthday to come in 2016! He also got a gaming computer.
Adam is interested in getting a motorcycle
We thought this shirt was appropriate - yes, bushy
Maddy got some Yak cheese.  Yes, it really is Yak cheese.
Marion got a new vase
Wendy got a new iPad

I got a silver chain (a wheat chain)

I also got a case for my watches and some Cessna 172s

Money for his trip!

Early Christmas dinner 2015
With all the Christmas stuff out of the way early, it was time to send the kids packing. After a too long drive down to Buffalo airport, off they went with Marion to the warmer climate down south.

Wendy and I were able to do all sorts of things that we normally would not do over the next week or so. We started by going over to Melanie and Murray's to do puzzles (OK, not what you would expect for our first night of "freedom"), then back the next day for a turkey dinner.

Christmas day itself was started with a luxurious sleep in late thing (until Maddy needed to go out) and the rest of the day was spent doing non-Christmas like things. If you are on Facebook, you may have seen some of these pictures, but I'll repeat them here for you below.

Yes, I needed to trim the lawn Christmas day!! 

We went for a 5.5 km hike in the very warm (for December) weather.

We went to see Star Wars (in 3D with motion-controlled seats)!
I ended Christmas day with some Calvados (Normandy apple brandy)

It was a great day, but we had to get up reasonably early the next morning - we wanted to go Boxing Day shopping! We headed down toward Niagara Falls and shopped at both the new Niagara Outlet Collection and the Pen Centre. It was an absolute zoo with almost no parking anywhere, but we got through it and can say that we have done it. We won't need to do it again next year (the deals were not that great).  After the shopping and lunch out (A & W - we don't have a lot of imagination...), we went all the way to the Falls and went for several hours at the Fallsview Casino.  We only spent $15 (but more than that on parking), but it was fun.

At Fallsview Casino
To wrap up our time away from the kids, we took one day as a pajama day - stayed in PJs the whole day and just puttered around the house. We went to dinner at a great tapas restaurant in Hamilton (Rapscallion) one night, then went to our neighbour and friends' place to play Mahjong (last night).

Mahjong game at Heather and JP's!
Today it is back to real life and back to the Buffalo airport for me to pick up Marion and the kids. Since it is New Year's eve, we are going to head over at Mel and Murray's for dinner (hoping she doesn't get called in to the hospital), we will ring in the new year, Wendy will drive home, then we will go to bed exhausted.

This kid-less thing is exhausting!

Happy New Year everyone.

A tale of two beards

OK, I guess I must be having a bad influence on the boys, as they both decided that they would grow beards in the past few months. 

Adam's has become much bushier since my first post about it in October. 


I believe that Parker may be at a bit of a disadvantage (he started later in the season), but I expect that his will fill in nicely within the next year (or two). 

It is interesting to note that Wendy now has 4 different coloured beards in the house: black/grey (me); red (Adam); blonde (Parker); white/grey (Maddy).

16 Nov 2015

This and that

Just a few things that have happened recently that deserved a blog post...!

The last few weeks have seen a few interesting things happen around our place. We heard from Parker that he got several awards at the award ceremony at school. These are the academic awards from grade 9 that they present in the fall. Parker was awarded Honour roll, best mark in Geography, and best mark in French! Quite a good performance overall.  

Now, if only he could have remembered to go the the awards ceremony...!

This is Parker having his typical-sized breakfast at 12:30 (also a typical time to rise on a weekend). After eating a plain piece of bread, he made 2 sandwiches with lots of meat (chicken and roast beef), 2 puddings (he had 4, but we said they were for later), a large bowl of cereal (refilled after), two juice boxes, and a huge glass of milk. 
He is now so tall that he has to bend down to reach the table...

Adam had some good news, too.  After years of telling him that he needed to get out there to search for a good job, and that one wouldn't just land in his lap... you guessed it!  A job just landed in his lap. He got an email out of the blue from the engineering company (where his cousin's husband works, and where he went to Take Your Kids to Work day in grade 9) asking if he was still looking for work. He said yes, and now has a full time permanent position working as an assembly technician at the company called 9Point8 (a division of Applied Kinetics). 9Point8 is the manufacturing division that currently makes specialized bicycle parts (particularly a special seat post). He sort of does anything that they need him to do, including CAD, machining, assembling, etc.  Fits exactly what he likes doing, with a group of equally techie guys.  He has now shelved his plans to go back to college in September, and has cancelled the math course at Mohawk that he was to start last week - the idea was to get ahead in math, then hopefully get credit for the course in the fall. Adam decided to keep his part time job at the No Frills grocery store (at which he had been getting almost full time hours) to keep himself busy. All this after last week getting his keys for the grocery store so he could close the store in lieu of a manager. 

Here is Adam putting up the Christmas lights at our place and his grandmother's place. At least it was reasonably warm this year for this task. 

Maddy didn't have any good news for us when we arrived home from our weekly Tai Chi class on Tuesday night. She decided that empty chocolate wrappers in the garbage (left over from Halloween) were too much of a temptation. She spread them over several rooms just to make sure she found all the good bits to eat. It is too bad that the boys are usually more hungry than she is... there was probably nothing edible in the bag!

Her is Maddy modelling her new sweater. It is actually part of a 2 piece outfit, with a waterproof shell that goes over top. She rarely gets new clothes (she hates wearing clothes), but she had grown out of her older jackets. When we put anything on her like a sweater, she stands perfectly still like she is a statue. She has to be physically pushed to get her moving!

I got some news at work from the new Assistant Dean. She dropped by to confirm with me that I will indeed be teaching 2 courses in January. The courses are actually one course, but it is divided into 3 sections of about 70 students each, with different topics in Cell Biology covered in each section. The course was previously taught with a faculty member for each section. This year I am doing 2 sections on my own (and I am not faculty). The third section is being done by 5 faculty members, presumably because it is so much work! 

Yesterday, Wendy and I went for our 5th Bruce Trail hike with our friends Terry and Theresa. We drove down to the Thorold/Niagara area (about a 55 min drive) and arrived to find this sign.

There was a very nice lady sitting in her car at the parking lot (she was a provincial officer), and she told us that the whole area was off limits unless we wanted to get impaled by an arrow. We tried to find another location to do a hike, but most of the areas we could choose were also off limits. Neither of us had brought the entire Bruce Trail Map book since the next 2 hikes were on one page, so we couldn't get the details of the locations for the later hikes to start somewhere else.  Instead, we decided to take a selfie of our group while we thought of options. The provincial officer, probably bored out of her skull sitting in a car all day, kindly took the picture for us!

Theresa and Terry had what we considered was an inspired idea of what to do. If you can't go hiking 10 km, what else could you do but...

.... go shopping!!!!

And shopping, we did. There was an Antique Market that we had seen next to the highway every time we had traveled this way for hiking.  So, off we went to spend a considerable amount of time at the Prudhomme's Antique Market.  Lots of very interesting stuff to be dug through, and many great bargains. 

21 Oct 2015

Last day in Quebec City

Wendy's conference was over last evening, so we took the chance to go out to dinner and wander the city for a while. Below is the view from our window in the evening (after most of the Blue Jays disaster game was over).

This was an interesting and colourful sight - seemed to be a war memorial.

The restaurant where we ate dinner was reported to be the oldest pizza restaurant in the city. We had a chicken and bacon pizza with a Caesar salad - ON TOP! Yes, the salad was piled on top the freshly baked pizza. Actually better than it sounds!

Halloween decorations are big here. This display went all out, with a cauldron, fake flames, and real steam.

The pumpkin was of good size as well.

Purple is the predominant colour used to light up most buildings at night. Here is the Chateaux Frontenac.

Our last full day was set aside for Wendy and I to sleep in then tour the Citadel. It is the main Fort and home to the 2nd Battalion of the Royal 22nd regiment (vingt deux; the Van Doos). Below is a shot taken in one of the museum areas with badges from military units across Canada.

Most of my photos were on my real camera, but here are a few from the tour.

This panorama will likely stick off the edge of the web page, but it shows a nice view of old Quebec.
This is their largest cannon but it is not the one they fired at noon.

We did stop in to visit a beautiful old cathedral. Gorgeous interior...

This picture of Wendy nicely combines 2 common themes from the trip. Here is Wendy eating maple cotton candy (really good stuff!) while watching a Blue Jays game!

20 Oct 2015

Quebec city

Wendy and I are currently in Quebec city while Wendy attends a conference. We flew from YTZ (Billy Bishop airport / Toronto City Centre) on Porter airlines. 

Luckily, we took the GO train - there was a marathon on that completely closed the Lakeshore and caused traffic chaos. Everyone at the airport was upset and rushed (is that a Toronto thing...?) except us.

The new tunnel to the airport was very convenient and was quite a pleasant way to get there. Barely a 5 min walk on moving sidewalks. 

The flight was fast and the fall colours were beautiful as we arrived in Quebec. On leaving the airport it started to snow! Winter seems closer here than at home. 

View from our hotel
Wendy with her poster

Dinner at the Parmesan

Night scene

On my first day of exploration, I tracked down a geocache. This one is a cannonball that supposedly landed here during the war of 1759. The tree grew around it and it is still where it landed. 

First geocache I found in Quebec 
The shopping was typically touristy, with some fashion I don't really get...

This is not far from our hotel, so I had to take a picture for our friend Penny who finds many such art pieces around Toronto.

Today I walked around the Plains of Abraham. This is one of the Martello towers overlooking the river.
Martello tower
 Here is a selfie showing some of the fall colours.

I went into the Musée national des beaux-art du Quebec and spent several hours wandering the collections. The Fernand Leduc exposition confirmed that I really don't resonate with modern art very well. The piece below didn't do anything for me.

This one, appearing like a plain white canvas was actually more intriguing when you got closer. It has a very subtle graphic pattern that has been painted over with white such that you can only see from very close. Clever, but not something I would use to decorate around.
Not just white! 
 Part of the museum is in an old prison.  Here are some cells.

From inside a cell
The Jean-Paul Riopelle exposition was interesting, but not really my style either.

This one was complex and included sand and cinders in the composition. I was captivated by this piece for quite a while.

Ok, he lost me on the point to this piece...

There was a turret that you could ascend and it housed some wood art by David Moore. Beautiful gallery setting and interesting sculptures in wood.
View from turret 

This piece, "the penalty" by Alfred Laliberte, struck a chord with me for some reason. It looked to me like it represented a painful burden.

I was most impressed by the decorative stained glass treatment for the fire cabinets.

I'll post some more pictures in the coming days as these are only ones taken with my phone. I have hundreds more on my real camera.